116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MOUNT VERNON — Holding an 8-3 lead in the top of the fifth inning, Cedar Rapids Kennedy appeared in control of Linn-Mar.
The Lions, to their credit, wouldn't go down easily in the first round of the Bob Vrbicek Metro Baseball Tournament. They loaded the bases at Mount Vernon's Ash Park against Kennedy pitcher Graham Woods, forcing Woods to work out of a serious jam on the way to a 13-5 victory.
The Lions plated one after a passed ball, and would load the bases only a few batters later.
Woods induced a line out from Linn-Mar's Alex Rakers, and after walking in another run to make the score 8-5, he struck out the Lions' all-state outfielder Manny Jeffery to end the inning and earn a major endorsement from coach Bret Hoyer.
After nearly taking Woods out before facing Jeffery, Hoyer's faith was rewarded.
'He's got varsity stuff,' Hoyer said. 'Win or lose, he's going to be better for it, because he found out he can pitch through those jitters and get varsity hitters out.'
The first-game jitters were apparent for both teams' pitching staffs. The two teams combined for over 15 walks in the 2 hour, 35 minute game.
Graham said in working to overcome the early command issues he faced early in the game he simply trusted the process.
'Try to hit the mitt. Throw strikes. Put the bat on the ball,' he said.
• Metro Baseball:
The early-season jitters were felt by Kennedy's Jackson Behn as well. He switched to first base after his pitching stint and seemed to overcome those, however, plating 4 RBIs.
The Cougars' 13 runs came on just 11 hits and they chased Linn-Mar starter Joshua Strauss after one inning.
'We just wanted to have a good approach and have good at-bats the whole game,' Jacob Henry said. 'We just battled, battled all game long.'
Kennedy grinded through the Linn-Mar pitching staff, often drawing walks on full counts.
Hoyer said the game experience will help his team in its rematch with the Lions next week.
'Linn-Mar was really good to us,' Hoyer said. 'They're going to be a lot better next week when we play them.'
Mount Vernon, playing as the away team at its home field, broke open a 1-1 pitchers' dual in the second game of the day in the sixth inning against Marion. The Mustangs took a 2-1 lead on a Luke Eldred double and went on to win 3-1.
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